For the last two weeks the boys had worked hard to make the cabin just like the sort of home they wanted for the winter, during this time the Gelding, Pinto and the Appaloosa had somehow disappeared, only the two wagon horses remained in the small corral.
Antonio could not understand why Ravenhawk was not upset at losing the horses, they had been their constant companions during all the long miles they had travelled to reach this cabin.
Ravenhawk had only said that it was the desire of the Creator that the three horses should not be here and, if Antonio was really worried Ravenhawk would go off to a solitary place and do some prayer work to find out why, but he thought that if they ever needed the horses again, then Creator would return them.
For Antonio it was still hard to believe in Ravenhawk's thinking but he had thrown his lot in with the boy of his long held desires and was prepared to let him know best, at least they still had the two large wagon horses if they needed to leave this place.
Ravenhawk had left the cabin only once, taking the wagon he left Antonio alone to work around the cabin, Ravenhawk felt happy that Antonio had seemed to slip into the place of the true Berdach with so little training, Ravenhawk steered the wagon away in the opposite direction from the way they had come in, he did not want to run into the older pair again.
He travelled for two hours before he found what he had gone looking for, it was the second farm he had visited, in the big red barn he found fresh stacked hay from just before the disaster of the virus, Ravenhawk set to work stacking the square bails as high as he dared in the wagon, it would have to feed the two horses for the entire winter.
On his return to the cabin an hour before nightfall, Ravenhawk called for Antonio to help him stack the bales in the equipment shed where they would stay dry, he then re-parked the wagon back under the lean-to and freed the horses into the corral, he had now done all he could to prepare for the coming snows and by the crispness of the nights he didn't think they were far away.
One night the two boys were sleeping together under the protection of the large buffalo hide, they had thrown it over the top of the few blankets that they found on the large double bed, because of this they did not feel the sudden drop in temperature during the night and so, when they awoke in the morning it was to a white wonderland of fresh snow and crystal clear sky.
Antonio was the first to shiver as he got out of bed to light the fire for their new found adventure of coffee in the mornings, he frowned down at the smiling face of Ravenhawk as the boy snuggled closer under the pile of bed clothes while Antonio hurriedly looked for something warm to dress in, seeing nothing he turned towards the door.
"I suppose you think it's funny for me to get frozen while you lay there like a lord staying warm?"
"Not funny, just realistic, why should both of us be cold when it only takes one to light a fire and put the coffee on?"
"You know you're a lazy Indian, don't you?"
"Oh no, not a lazy Indian, a smart Indian, why should I get cold when a White-eyes can do it for me?"
"Uhuh, a lazy Indian, you really are a slave driver, you know I'm just a poor weak Berdach."
"Hmmm, yes, but if you hurry with my coffee I might give you a special present my poor weak Berdach."
"That's bribery, I know all your tricks lazy Indian."
"And I know what you desire above all else, weak and poor Berdach."
"OK, OK, I will get your coffee mighty warrior but you better keep that bed warm for me."
"That is what I am good at; the bed will be waiting for you as will I."
Antonio tried as best he could to hide his smile as he hurried to the main room to get the coffee ready, the white wonderland outside held little appeal to him just yet, the cold floor was curling his toes as he lit the fire and turned his naked body around to warm his buns before setting a pot of water on to boil.
It was another hour before the boys finally rose to look at the first fall of snow; Ravenhawk sniffed the air and then turned to Antonio.
"I must go out and collect a few things, it is not long before the most important day is here, I will be away for most of the day so don't worry, there is much yet to do before we can sit around a fire and watch the winter pass by."
"Where are you going, I thought we had everything we needed?"
"It is close to the time you call The Winter Solstice, it is a very important time for us as well, I need some things to prepare for the ceremony."
"Ok, I will do a few things around here until you return."
Ravenhawk nodded and went outside to get the two horses settled into the wagon, it was going to be a long hard day's work to get everything for the ceremony, an hour later and Ravenhawk left the comfort of the cabin glade, the air was crisp and the fresh smell of newly fallen snow filled his nostrils as he sat up on the wagon seat.
Antonio worked hard all day stopping only for another cup of coffee and to put the bread in the oven to cook, its smell filling the cabin with its fresh aroma, the cabin was now spotless, he had brought in extra firewood and made sure the large pot filled with water was on the fire grate to heat up for Ravenhawk's return.
Late in the afternoon, Antonio heard what sounded like the wagon returning in a hurry, going outside he saw the two large horses trotting towards him, they were covered in sweat and blowing hard as they came closer, Ravenhawk sat on the seat with a large bundle tucked into his side, Antonio was not sure but he thought he could see what looked like a brown head of hair somewhere in the thick jacket.
Ravenhawk was standing up with one foot on the brake lever and the other braced against the foot board as he leaned back to stop the two large horses close to the front door, Antonio saw that the wagon was piled with what looked like young willow branches, rolls of tree bark and something in the bed of the wagon that was heavy but out of sight.
Once the wagon had stopped, Ravenhawk leaned down and picked up what could only have been a very small body wrapped in the wool jacket that Ravenhawk had been wearing when he left, Antonio ran to the side of the wagon as Ravenhawk passed the small bundle down to him, Antonio almost choked and his stomach roiled as he caught the first smell of the little bundle.
"Take him inside, try to get some warm soup in him but have a bucket handy, he will probably throw it all up again, I need to go and get some herbs and things."
"Who is he, where did you find him?"
"I'll tell you when I get back, we don't have much time, he's been bitten by a scorpion and the poison is working on him, try to clean him up as best you can until I get back."
Ravenhawk ran from the cabin towards the trees as Antonio carried the miserable looking bundle inside, the rancid smell coming from the bundle almost made him retch and it only got worse as he unwrapped the jacket, what he saw made tears come to his eyes, the foul smell put aside as he saw the small boy fully for the first time.
He looked to be about three or four years old, his pale and sallow skin was holding nothing but bones, the gaunt look on the boys face was almost death like, his hair was a mass of small twigs, grass seeds and dirt and looked like a windblown hay stack, the dark rings around the boys closed eyes told only of misery.
The stench got worse as he unwrapped the jacket, the boy was dressed only in a dirty and torn pair of what had once been tightywhities, they were grey in colour and had tears and holes in them, the elastic was now frayed and hung on the bony hips by a mere miracle, the once yellow tee shirt was now more rags than shirt and the small woollen pullover was a mass of broken threads and large holes.
The boy's feet and legs were showing signs of insect bights in varying degrees of age, there were also scratches and cuts, some of which were still scabbed and, along with a few bruises he looked in very bad shape, it was plainly obvious the boy had avoided water as most little boys are wont to do, his briefs were a mess of urine and faeces stains.
Antonio did not realise there were tears falling down his cheeks as he stripped off the minimal clothing, underneath the story was no better, Antonio covered him with a blanket and then went to put on a can of soup to warm up while he checked the temperature of the large pot of water on the fire.
Taking the pot off the grate, he pulled out the old tin bath and added cold water, as yet the boy had not even opened his eyes and only the laboured breathing told Antonio the bag of bones was even alive, it was a foregone conclusion that Antonio would have to burn all of the little boys clothes, even he could see they were lice ridden and the boys hair would have to also be shaven completely off as there was an infestation of lice and nits, how the little boy had survived for the months since the disaster was beyond belief.
As Antonio got the warm can of soup off the stove, Ravenhawk came back running, without a word he set about placing items from the forrest in a small pot with water, Antonio lifted the comatose boy up enough to get a spoon of soup to his blue lips, he had to tilt the boys head back to get some of the warm liquid to trickle down the boys throat.
It took a little time but eventually he got about six spoons of soup into the small mouth, the boy swallowing only by habit and instinct, next was the bathing, by now Antonio had almost got used to the rancid smell, stripping the boy and throwing the clothes towards the big fire place for burning, he gently lowered the boy into the shallow old tin bath.
There was the faintest of murmurs from the little body and then it began to convulse, Antonio just got the bucket in time and tilted the boys head over it as the soup and whatever was in the boys stomach came out in a gush of bile to add more stink to the already mad situation, Ravenhawk did not look up but kept on working over his pot.
Finally Antonio had the boy immersed in the warm water, with soap in one hand and holding the frail body with the other, he set about cleaning the small figure, the almost black feet and ankles were the hardest to clean it was a long time since they had seen water or soap, carefully he washed and scrubbed until the boy began to look human once again.
The next challenge was the boys tangled mess of hair, there was only one thing for it, Antonio rested the boy back against the side of the tub and went in search of the scissors and a razor, all of the boys hair would have to come off, Antonio worked on until he had a very bald, skinny and sleeping boy laying out on the clean towels he had gotten from the bedroom, the water in the tub was now more mud and dirt than water.
Antonio dried the boy and covered him with a warm blanket as Ravenhawk appeared with a vile looking concoction in a mug, even Antonio did not like the smell of the brew and he was standing back from it.
"Get the bucket ready, I'm going to pour this into him and he's going to throw it all up again but it will kill the poison in his system and make him rest for a few days."
"By the smell of that stuff it is going to poison him all over again."
"Just get the bucket; we don't have much time left."
The seriousness of Ravenhawk's voice stopped any replies as Antonio went for the bucket, the urgency was now evident as the little boys breathing was getting worse, Antonio returned just as Ravenhawk fed the last few drops into the boys open mouth, his swallow reflexes taking over, it was only a few minutes before Antonio saw the boys face change, he got the bucket in position just in time.
Finally the dark brown medicine mixed with black bile came to an end, Ravenhawk took the little boy and wiped his mouth and chin then laid him in two blankets in front of the fire, the boy would sleep for at least two days before he would wake, that was if the potion had been taken in time.
The two boys looked down at the unconscious boy in the blankets, without his hair he looked even younger and his thin bony frame did not allay their judgement, Antonio took Ravenhawk's arm and they went to sit in one of the large leather chairs after they had thrown all the boys clothes on the fire to burn.
"How did you find him?" Antonio asked as he laid his head back on Ravenhawk's chest
"I was cutting the last of the bark for the sweat lodge."
"Sweat lodge! What's that for?"
"You will see in time, now back to the boy, I was just about finished when I heard a cougar scream followed by what sounded like a girls scream, it was quite close so I went to see if I could help. When I saw them the boy was trying to fight off a young cougar with a stick, he has a warriors spirit that little boy, I've known grown men that would not stand and fight a cougar, even one as young as this one was."
"I fired a shot in the air and the cougar ran off and the boy collapsed on the ground, I could see he was in a really bad way but not from the fear of the cougar, there was something else wrong with him, I looked him over and saw the puncture wound in his foot, I almost missed it because of the dirt but the swelling was quite bad."
"He was now unconscious so I grabbed him and ran for the wagon and made it back as fast as I could, the rest you know."
"I don't know what to say, we have to look after him, how did he survive so long on his own, it's been months since the virus attack?"
"Like I said, the little boy has a warrior spirit, he is not one to give up, he will make a good fighter when he is older."
"That's if he survives your medicine."
"He will survive, if it was bad for him he would be dead already, we got the poison out of him just in time, he just needs rest and food now."
Antonio snuggled in closer to Ravenhawk, the image of the little boy all alone in a hostile world gave him the shivers, how would he have reacted, could he have survived like the little boy if he had not run into Ravenhawk, he had to admit that he probably would not be here now if it had not been for his boyfriend.
That night they took turns sitting up watching the boy as he slept, in the morning, with both of them looking a little bleary eyed, they had breakfast and then Ravenhawk went out to finish unloading the wagon, he had released the horses and rubbed them down last night, they were now back in the corral and eating the first fresh hay of the winter,
The ground was now covered with about four inches of snow, Ravenhawk began to work on his sweat lodge, first he cleared away the snow in a large circle, he then began to make a stone circle around the outer edge, once completed he started on the lodge proper, placing a number of willow stems in the ground in a circle he began to weave others to make a grid pattern.
Once the inner frame of the small hut like building was complete, he began to line it with the long strips of bark, next came the rolls of sod and to finish he placed more willow branches to hold it all together, leaving only one small hole for the door.
To the left of the new lodge he set another small circle of stones for a fire pit and next to that he stacked larger stones that would be used for heating in the lodge itself once they were heated by the fire to almost red hot, he was now left with only making the larger circle secure with his magic, to this end he began the song of the Magic of the Ground, he was a little disappointed he had no drum but his words would carry to Creator and the sweat lodge would be safe for the upcoming ceremony.
The next morning, Antonio went to the door to see if there had been a further snow fall, one glance and he knew there had been but, what really caught his eye was the round circle of the sweat lodge, outside the stone circle the snow was a good four inches deep but, inside the circle there was new green grass along with the yellow and white colour of spring daisies.
Antonio blinked to clear his vision, was he seeing what he thought he saw? Again he looked at the circle of stones, sure enough in the centre there was not a single flake of snow that he could see, Antonio felt a shudder go through him as he looked at the strange marvel in front of him.
At last he found his voice and called for Ravenhawk to come and look, when his boyfriend appeared he looked askance at Antonio.
"Don't you see it?" Antonio asked Ravenhawk.
"Ravenhawk, there's no snow in your circle, it looks like spring time."
"Come back inside and I will explain it to you."
The two boys returned inside and sat at the small table after checking on the little boy, he was still in a deep sleep.
"Now tell me what's going on out there."
"My, my, you are such a forceful Berdach and impatient as well."
"Stop it; just tell me what it's all about."
"I know you saw me dance and sing yesterday after I finished the circle of the sweat lodge."
"The dance and song were called, The Magic of the Ground, it was to protect the circle, and anyone in it from harm; that also means from the snow."
"But that's impossible; magic is something in the story books."
"Not to those who believe in the Creator, you must change your thinking, stop and think, we are only a reflection of the Creator, what we do or see is what he wishes to see in our reflection, it is about the perception of what is around us, if we show proper respect for the Creator he will allow it to be, you would call it magic but to us it is just that which the Creator wishes it to be."
"But that's impossible, isn't it?"
"Look again, what do you see outside?"
"I know what I saw but it can't be."
"Then how do you explain that it is; everything is not what it seems in the world of Wakan Tanka, the Creator."
"I will never understand."
"Yes, in time you will learn, tomorrow I will begin to teach you the first prayer, it will take you a long time to begin to understand but in time you will open your eyes and see what Creator has placed here for us, I have been saying the prayer every day since I was old enough to speak and yet, I am still learning, wait and you will see."
"Well Ok, but I am still confused."
"That is good; at least now you can open your mind to his ways, confusion is the beginning of understanding."
Ravenhawk turned and began to look over the still sleeping boy, he had hardly moved the whole time he had been wrapped in the blankets by the fire, it was time to wake him and try to get some hot food into his small, skinny frame.
While Antonio placed some canned chicken soup on the stove to heat up, Ravenhawk unwrapped the little boy from the blankets, he still looked like a pale skeleton but at least now he was clean and the swelling of the scorpion bite had all but disappeared, it was a good sign for the boys future.
Ravenhawk picked the boy up and heard a faint murmur from the skeletal body, taking great care he carried the little boy to the table and sat with him on his lap, slowly the boys blue eyes opened and he looked up at the face above him, he showed little emotion at seeing Ravenhawk but instead sighed and drew closer to the teen.
Ravenhawk called for Antonio to thin the soup down with some water, the thinner soup would be more digestible for the wasted stomach of the boy.
Once the soup was ready to Ravenhawk's satisfaction, he began to slowly feed the boy one spoon at a time, the boy sipped and then swallowed but did little else, his eyes were always on Ravenhawk's face as he placed one spoon after the other, no one said a word as the boy fed, when the bowl was empty, Ravenhawk smiled at the pale face that was now getting a little colour back into it.
"Do you have a name, little one?"
"Don member." Came the soft whispered reply from the boy.
"Then we will have to find a new name for you, you can go back to sleep now while I think of a good and brave name for you and tomorrow I will give it to you."
The soft spoken, "Ok" was all they heard and the boy was fast asleep once again, Ravenhawk took him back to the blankets and wrapped him up again then placed him back by the fire, once done he went to Antonio and hugged him close then whispered in his ear.
"You will be a mother now my Berdach, we will have a son to raise and he shall be a strong warrior when he is older."
"We will have to make the other room ready for him to sleep in."
"No, he will sleep with us until he is old enough to sleep alone."
"But...but that means we will have to stop doing what we do in bed."
"Of course not, why would we stop that which is good?"
"But the bible and the law say it is a sin to have sex when a little toddler is around, especially in the same bed."
"The bible! The law! Where are they now, the only law today is the one we make, if the boy sees two birds breeding, should I turn him away so he cannot see, if two horses are breeding should he be turned away, if he sees a pair of rabbits should he have his eyes closed to that which the Creator has made good?"
"But they are animals, we are people, it is wrong for him to see us doing it."
"Why is it wrong, it is a natural part of the Creator and what we do for each other."
"It just seems wrong for him to be there when we are doing something."
"You must forget the old things you have been told, this is a new world, it does not have the same laws or rules, if we live by the old laws of the Creator then we are not doing harm to others, Creator saw fit to allow us to be together as two spirit people, it is his design and we must be satisfied that he knows best."
"What exactly is this two spirit thing you mention, you have said it before but I don't know what it means?"
"Everything alive has a spirit, the trees, the animals, the birds and even the ground itself, we are lucky, you see a woman has only one spirit, the spirit of the female, her spirit dictates that she shall watch over the home and bear children to maintain the family, most men have one spirit, the spirit of the warrior so they can defend the home and provide for the family, we however have both spirits, we are the ones that have been especially blessed by the creator.
"In any situation we can see both sides of a problem more clearly, both the practical and the emotional, to this end we are closer to the spirits and see what others do not, it is why many of the Medicine Elders are of two spirits, they see what others cannot and they understand that which is only a mist to others."
"You know that you are just confusing me more."
"In time you will understand, we have a lot of time to live yet, you will have your eyes open to the vast happiness of the Creator when you are taught more."
"You know you sound like an old man and not a fourteen year old boy, don't you."
"Perhaps I am far older than you think."
"Do not go there, I need some more coffee, do you want some?"
"Yes, today is a rest day we can sit by the fire and do nothing for the rest of the day."
"Sounds good to me, it's been a busy few weeks."
"Yes it has and I still have one more task to complete but it will wait until tomorrow."
"What task?" Antonio asked as he handed the cup of hot coffee to Ravenhawk.
"The second buffalo hide, it will be ready for use by tomorrow, the stone is still spinning and the hide feels soft enough now, the last little bit of moister will be out of the hide by the morning, we can use it for our new son."
"What are we going to do during the long winter nights, there's no TV or radio now?"
"There will be many things to do, I will teach you to do bead work, there is also the prayers and songs, when I can find some deer I will get their skins and you can make your own medicine shirt, see, there are many things you can do, and you have a son to watch over and teach as well."
"WE, have a son, not I have a son."
"Oh yes, but I will teach him the things a great warrior must know, you will teach him the things that he must know around the house like cooking."
"You do realize he is only about four years old?"
"Yes, but it is never too late to start to learn these things for his survival."
"Too late! What do you mean, too late?"
"Had he been in one of our villages, he would already know many things, the boys start to learn almost as soon as they can walk so he is a few years late in starting but I am sure he will catch up quickly, he seems to be very bright as well as brave."
"How do you think he managed to survive so long without help?"
"He had help."
"He did? Who?"
"The Creator helped him, he had chosen him for something so he made sure the boy was protected until we could find him, everything the Creator does is for a good reason, like me finding you on the prairie."
"Yes, well I will have to think more on that one, we would have said that God watched over us."
"Your God is quite new and is made or thought of by man, one day you will see that your idea of God was false but today is not the time for discussing those things, it is our day of rest, do you want to come and rest in my arms, the boy is sleeping and the fire is just right and I am feeling like a lazy Indian who needs his Berdach to keep him company."
Antonio gave a short laugh and then went to lay in Ravenhawk's arms as they both watched the fire and the little boy as he slept in peace, outside it was quiet and even the wind was soft as it blew down from the North, the chill outside would bring more snow tonight.
Dinner was a thick slice of the ham with the last of the fresh vegetables and a sour dough bread, the little boy had been awoken for his dinner but had then gone back to sleep as soon as he had finished eating, the other two stayed up longer and Ravenhawk watched as Antonio washed the dishes and cooking pots, he sighed in contentment, this cabin had the feeling of home about it.
The next morning brought a new covering of snow and yet the sweat lodge circle remained snow free, the sky was a clear blue and there was no sign of snow clouds anywhere, the crispness of the morning gave both boys a feeling of newness and rebirth, it was a good day to be alive.
As they sat at the small table to drink their coffee, a soft murmur came from the bundle of blankets by the low fire, Ravenhawk turned to the temporary bed.
"Come on little one, time to eat and get your new name, it is a new start to the day and to your life."
Slowly the naked little boy rose out of the blankets and made his bleary eyed way to where Ravenhawk sat, putting his arms up so that Ravenhawk could lift him up, he then sat happily on his lap as his eyes focussed on the small bowl of oatmeal on the table, with a glance up at the smiling face of Ravenhawk, the boy picked up the spoon and began to eat.
When he had finished the bowl and had drunk the glass of canned fruit juice Antonio had got for him, the little boy looked first at Ravenhawk and then Antonio with large innocent blue eyes which were startling against the pale whiteness of his skin.
"Are you my new daddies?"
"Yes, are you ok with that?" Ravenhawk asked.
"Ok, I member you said I could have a new name to."
"Yes that's true and I have a very special name that is for strong and brave little boys, do you want to know what it is?"
"From today we will call you, Little Bear."
"That's a funny name; I think my other name was only one word."
"That was another time, now you have a new start and a new name to go with it."
"Ok, what does it mean?"
"Well it means you are brave like a big Grizzly Bear but you are still small yet, when you were fighting off that bad Mountain Lion you showed you were not afraid like a small boy but brave like a big Bear."
"Oh, Ok, I don't have any clothes, am I naughty for showing my boy thingies?"
"No, you are not bad, you are just right as the Creator made you."
"Who is he, I didn't see him here?"
"He is a special spirit that protects little bears, I will teach you more about him in time but for now what do you want to do?"
"Eat some more."
The two boys laughed as the newly named Little Bear looked around the table in all innocence looking for more food, it was a good sign that he was healing fast.
"Just tell your Daddy Antonio and he will cook you some good food."
"Daddy Antonio can I have some more to eat?"
Antonio laughed as he got up from the table, it looked like their newly adopted son was on the mend, he went to the stove and began to cook bacon and fry some of the sour dough bread from last night, he also poured two more cups of coffee.
When Little Bear had again finished eating, his little thin stomach was distended and a few drips of bacon grease had slipped down his chin but the wide smile said it all, he was no longer hungry and he was warm and happy, getting up from the table he went to look out the window for the first time.
"Daddy, Daddy look, look."
"What is it Little Bear?" Ravenhawk asked
"Snow, it's all snow outside, can I go and play in it?"
"I think you better stay inside by the fire this time, your little butt might get frozen out there and you have been very sick, you rest for today and tomorrow you can go out and play in the snow, it will still be there then."
A sad look came over Little Bear's face as he heard what to him was the bad news, still he had the promise of play time tomorrow and his new home was warm and smelled good, he was happy and he now had two daddies instead of none like before the bad time came, he turned back to the fire and went to his blankets to sit on them and watch the flames as they danced on the thick logs.
In the house the two boys had just been wearing their small breechclouts, Ravenhawk now went and got his leggings and moccasins and donned them, he then took down a thick warm plaid jacket from the peg on the wall and buttoned it up tight.
"Where are you going?"
"I have to go and check on the buffalo hide, it should be ready now and we can use it to make a couple of coats for you and Little Bear and I have to go and check the fuel in the generator, after that I will go out and do some hunting, Little Bear needs some clothes for the Winter and Winter fur is the best thing for him."
"When do you think you will be back?"
"Perhaps close to nightfall, I will set some traps as well, I also want to find some birch then we can make some snow shoes."
"The snow is deeper, how will you move through it?"
"I will make use of the white eyes machine." Ravenhawk laughed as he got one of the shot guns down from the wall.
"That's not funny, Indian, I should make you walk, perhaps then you will start to like us more."
"I like you a lot already, it is the old white eyes I have little time for, although his snowmobile is handy for this occasion."
"Go and do your hunting and leave us civilised people to the warmth and peace of the cabin." Antonio was smiling as Ravenhawk gave him a very white man one finger salute as he left the cabin.
Antonio found the day passed quite quickly, Little Bear seemed to be hungry every other hour but Ravenhawk had told him to feed the boy whenever he was hungry, it would go a long way to helping him come back from the starvation he had suffered.
Antonio kept himself busy most of the time but was always ready to put things aside when Little Bear wanted some attention, which was quite often, Antonio would hold the little boy close and tell him stories from his own childhood, Little Bear would sit on his lap enthralled by the tales of pirates and adventurers that Antonio came up with.
It was almost fully dark when they heard the sound of the high revving snowmobile as it worked its way towards the house, going to the door, Antonio peered into the gloom of dusk, he lifted a hand to wave as he saw the dim outline of the machine which seemed to be towing a large bundle of thin branches behind it, Ravenhawk waved back from the seat behind the small curved windshield.
It was another hour and fully dark before Ravenhawk came back into the cabin, his face was rosy red from the cold and his lips were showing a little blue as he clapped his hands together to shake off any remaining snow from his gloves and to warm his cold hands, after stamping his now damp moccasins on the door step, he came inside and went straight to the fire to warm up.
Antonio handed him a hot cup of soup and then went back to getting dinner ready, Little Bear was looking up at Ravenhawk as though in awe of seeing him once again, Ravenhawk smiled down at the boy then asked him.
"Did you have a good day Little Bear?"
"Yes Daddy, Daddy Antonio told me lots of really good stories and I had lots and lots to eat, see my belly is getting bigger."
Little Bear giggled as only a small child could as he pushed his still thin belly out to prove his point.
"Yes I can see you are getting really fat, perhaps you should not eat any dinner or you will look like a butter ball in no time."
"Oh no, I still have some space for my dinner, you won't make me go to bed without it will you?"
Little Bear gave his best impression of a hurt little puppy as he gazed up at the smiling face above him.
"No, I won't make you go hungry; you need all the food you can fit inside that fat belly to make you strong and brave."
Little Bear ran up and hugged his new Daddy around the waist, as yet he could not quite reach up far enough to reach his Daddies neck, he lifted his arms up and was not surprised to be grasped under the arms and lifted up so he could settle against Ravenhawk's chest with his thin legs wrapped partially around Ravenhawk's waist.
It was nice to have someone to care for him in a warm cabin with lots of food and plenty of hugs even if he had no clothes and still felt naughty, his mother would never have let him go around the house in the same way but these two new daddies seemed to think it was ok and he was happy with that.
"How did the hunting go?" Antonio called from the kitchen area.
"Not too bad, I have four snow hares and a small white tail buck and I got ten snares laid."
"So we will have some fresh meat tomorrow?"
"Yes, I will dress it out tomorrow the cold will keep it fresh, have you checked out the store room in the generator shed, it has a lot of preserved fruit and vegetables as well as a wrack with a lot of potatoes on it?"
"No, I haven't been out there, I'll do it tomorrow."
Ravenhawk began to remove his heavy coat and then his moccasins so he could hang them close to the fire to dry, his leggings he slipped off and then picked up Little Bear once again and went to sit in a chair to fully warm up, Little Bear was happy to snuggle up close and began to doze off in front of the fire feeling safe and no longer hungry or scared.